We look back to Barry Briggs' preparations for the 1969 World Final and wonder if the result might have been different if he'd left things well alone.
Influx Magazine have an excellent feature on Tai Woffinden available to view and read on their website. Definitely worth a look.
If you're reading this early in the week, then you may be in time to download an interview with speedway author Jeff Scott that was recently broadcast on Talk Radio Europe. Jeff talks about the sport in general and is a fine advocate indeed. He also gives a brief plug for his latest book Born to Rumble. You can listen or download (for a limited time only) here.
Jason Gardner ( email@example.com ) needs help:
"l'm looking for a results grid/league table for the 1985 Anglia Junior League.
l'm after dates and results for meetings featuring Mildenhall.
The yearbook doesn't have anything."
"Rode a Phillips Speedtrack for two years, whilst riding for Aldershot 'Shots' in 1951 and 1952. Cycle track was in the car park of the Speedway track at neighbouring Tongham. Have several photos on the bike, both stills and in action. Great days, fondly remembered. Also interesting, the £10 17 6 price represented six weeks pay, at the time. Wish I still had the bike."
"Best ever rider profile comes from John Callaghan's book 'NL 90' (see 'How to be a Speedway Star' pages 108-111). It contains advice on how to fill in questionnaires of this nature. Sample advice: Favourite chocolate: it doesn't matter in the slightest what you say here, provided you don't express the opinion that the question is silly or pointless. Favourite track: say something that's now closed, because that way you get the benefit of the nostalgia factor and you won't have to prove it next time you visit the track in question... Don't however claim to like London's White City or Bristol - no one will believe you."
"I went to Wolverhampton Speedway last night (Wolves v Poole on 20/7/15). Apart from a visit to Coventry in the 70's (don't remember details) it was my first speedway visit since I was a regular at the Brummies aged 12 in 1947. First thing I noticed at Monmore Green was they were all leg trailers .. the only foot-forward riders were the 'Cubs' after the main event .. (Hope the kid who got hit it the second race is OK) Is trailing the in-thing now .. I remember a few at Brummies meetings on various sides, (all the old riders) but the vast majority were foot-forward."
"Wonderful memories of going speedway on Fridays, my hero was Split Waterman. I used to go with my Dad till he passed away, We also went Wimbledon, Barry Briggs, Ronnie Moore, loved going. Such happy memories. Belonged to the supporters club and had new bar every year to put on badge."
Malcolm Smith's track in Kent regularly hosts amateur and training meetings. Ian Presslie visited for the recent British Veterans Championship, which was won by Gary O'Hare, the former Stoke and Long Eaton favourite.
He may have been a spectacular perforner on the track, but Les Collins may have set the standard for the dullest 'personality profile' ever to be published.
Robert Doran ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) has a query you may be able to help with:
"Can anyone tell me who rode at David Smart's testimonial meeting (Sept 1993 at Swindon) at number 4 with the green edging on the race jacket? I am led to believe this meeting was a 4TT and it may have been an Exeter team due to the green edging."
"I remember Gary Peterson at Bradford in the early 1970's. There was one particular meeting, it must have been an individual trophy meeting, when he came up against Maury Robinson. Gary was on 12 points and Maury was on 11 points and it was their last race of five. Maury had to win to force a decider with Gary and he led the entire race until the last bend when Gary took him on the inside. I was on the terraces in between bend 3 and 4 and I can still see the tyre mark on the grass that Gary made, so determined was he to get the maximum 15 points. Maury Robinson was furious but the ref was having none of it. Interestingly enough, I do recall that on one occasion when Bradford needed a guest rider they turned to Maury Robinson!"
"A real crime this and many other Speedway tracks are gone. I rode round here many many times along with my mates, Dave Brewer, Martin Charles, Keith York (Biffo) we knew all the track staff and the whole experience was just like one big Speedway family. I have Peter Brewer to thanks for such wonderful years and memories as it was him along with his son who took me to this and many more track around the country. PS: They should have built a new Hackney Speedway Track when the built the Olympics stadium. "
John Hyam looks back on the career of this former New Cross man who rode successfully before and after WWII. John was fortunate enough to seen him in regular action, so is well placed to comment on the impact this talented Aussie made.
"It's a shame Jeff stopped writing his books. Jeff doesn't really do the normal question & answer routine, the key to getting the perhaps more candid and realistic comments (having been one of his subjects on more than one occasion) is in his style. He strikes up a relaxed conversation with you and during that chat he will pick his moment. It's actually very clever and makes his books stand apart from other speedway publications. The last time a speedway book made me smile so much was NL90 by Kevin Callaghan & was it Brian Jago? Two lads I am led to believe were involved with the Milton Keynes promotion. Jeff's book's have caused a degree of resentment from the old established guard so he must be doing something right."
"oh no, not another Jeff Scott book ..and worse than that , a re hashed book of already published material. If you've read this drivel once why on earth would you want to put yourself through it again!....a taster?....more like a bitter pill?......but it looks like people may actually buy these or they wouldn't keep releasing them so god knows why but there seems to be a market for them!"
"I did some detailed research on Ron Johnson a few years ago. If the family want a copy of my research I will forward it to them. I would say that Ron was treated harshly by the powers to be. In particular, the 1936 ban when he rode in the US. Other riders were not penalised, it would seem the authorities were out to make an example of Ron."
Swindon's Abbey Stadium is scheduled to be demolished in the near future, with a new track being built on adjacent land. Ian Presslie has captured these pictures so we can always remember how the place looked.
"Following on from my son Joe's comments. My Dad was Frederick Joseph Fearnley born Manchester in 1902. He did have a younger brother but his parents split up when he was about 8 and Fred went with his Mother Clara Greenhalgh while his brother went to live with his Dad. My Father first got interested in motorbike racing when attending amateur meetings on Southport Sands. After a short career as a rider he became involved in promoting at Belle Vue and Middlesborough, also West Ham where the riders wore vests with the crossed hammer insignia. My Dad told me that the speedway team were called the Hammers before the football team adopted that name. As a boy I attended many Speedway events with my Dad and remember the smell of hot Castrol racing oil on a Summer's evening. My Dad was a very successful businessman and the business side of speedway soon took over from racing. He owned a number of Motorbike dealerships in Manchester and London in the 50s and graduated to Ford dealerships in the 60s. He died in France in 1971 when married to his third wife who was a French national."